Urban Health

­Shoppers Drug Mart partners with UBC, BCCSU on addiction care

Shoppers Drug Mart is helping to improve addiction treatment and care for all Canadians by supporting pharmacist training and education led by the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU).

A $2 million gift from Shoppers Drug Mart to the University of British Columbia (UBC) will establish the Shoppers Drug Mart Addiction Pharmacy Fellowship—the first of its kind in Canada—and support the development of pharmacist-focused addiction treatment education at the BCCSU.

Pharmacists can play key role in screening, access

Pharmacists can be trained to play a critical role in providing healthcare for Canadians who use substances or have a substance use disorder. Through this philanthropic investment, Shoppers Drug Mart is helping to ensure pharmacists are better trained to support prevention, screening, and access to life-saving addiction medications.

“This is a national problem, affecting our patients, customers, friends and family members. Over the past few years, our pharmacy teams have been called upon to help more and more patients struggling with opioid addiction. We want to continue to be a positive force for change, and believe today’s announcement is another important step,” says Jeff Leger, President, Shoppers Drug Mart.

The fellowship at the BCCSU will be part of the largest addiction medicine fellowship program in North America – which provides training and education for dozens of health care providers each year – helping to mobilize expertise and new knowledge to benefit Canadians who use substances or with an addiction.

“In partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart, the BC Centre on Substance Use is developing a comprehensive pharmacist training program that will mobilize expertise and new knowledge to benefit Canadians who use substances or with an addiction,” says Cheyenne Johnson, executive director with the BCCSU. “By working together, we can achieve our shared goal of expanding capacity within the healthcare system from prevention to recovery to ultimately improve the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities who are impacted by addiction.”

Cheyenne Johnson, Executive Director, BCCSU

Strong need for evidence-based treatment

Access to evidence-based addiction treatment has been a longstanding and chronic need in the Canadian healthcare system. And now the need to address the harms of substance use has never been greater.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 19,000 Canadians have died of an overdose since 2016, and in the past year fatal and non-fatal overdoses are occurring at the highest rates ever in regions across Canada. Many of those individuals never access addiction treatment. In addition, as Canadians report consuming more alcohol during COVID-19, harms resulting from high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder are likely to increase. Alcohol use disorder is the most common substance use disorder in Canada, yet it frequently goes untreated and unrecognized, resulting in a high prevalence of disease, social harms and economic costs.

Closing the gap in care

Education and training are critical in raising awareness among health professionals, including pharmacists, on how best to engage with patients, provide life-saving medications and positively impact health services to address substance use-related harms and close the treatment care gap that is leaving many Canadians behind.

“At this time of heightened urgency comes increased responsibility to provide Canada’s frontline health professionals with the knowledge and tools to make a difference in the lives of people affected by substance use and addiction,” says Dr. Dermot Kelleher, dean of UBC’s faculty of medicine, and vice-president, health, at UBC. “I am excited by Shoppers Drug Mart’s decision to support the BCCSU’s leadership in closing the current evidence-to-care gap to address a devastating health issue that is woven into the fabric of our society.”

This story originally ran on the BCCSU website.

Learn More:
Shoppers Drug Mart Addiction Pharmacy Fellowship:
https://www.bccsu.ca/addiction-medicine-clinical-research-fellowship-overview/addiction-pharmacy-fellowship/